Gallup’s recent surveys of Muslims in London, Paris, and Berlin point to the need for greater understanding between Europe’s Muslim residents and the broader societies in which they live. But these surveys also offer plenty of evidence that the foundation for that understanding is already in place.
The first Summer University for Women will be open this year to receive all women who wish to learn more about gender equal opportunities and to exchange ideas and opinions on the subject. The initiative is a responsibility of the Barcelona University and the Ayuntamiento de Cornell_. The Islamic Catalan Council will participate in a course entitled The voice of the women in different religions, with a session dedicated to the Sufi spirituality.
After generations of living in France, Europe’s largest Muslim community is still struggling for recognition amid widespread stereotypes and suspicions. Despite the presence of some Muslim ministers in the French cabinet, most Muslims in France have to fight discrimination daily. Stefan Simons reports.
A controversial project to build a mosque in Bologna has been scrapped, due to lack of agreement from local Muslims concerning two key conditions. The city’s Islamic Cultural Centre failed to reply to a letter laying town two essential conditions for the mosque to go ahead; the city’s councillor, Virginio Merola says this indicated a disagreement with the city council over the project. The city council’s letter asked for (1) a foundation to be set up to ensure transparency over funding for the planned mosque, and (2) that Bologna’s Muslim community distance itself from Italy’s largest Muslim group – the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII). While plans for the mosque construction have now fallen through, Bologna’s Islamic Cultural Centre says it remains committed to building the mosque, despite opposition. A former coordinator for the mosques in the Emilia Romagna region, Hasan Giulio Soravia , criticized leaders for failing to break away from the UCOII, the largest Muslim group in Italy. The UCOII has many members that belong to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, and as such, Muslim projects in Italy have been encouraged to sever ties with the association. However, Soravia remains hopeful, that Muslims in Italy will e able to forge their own Islam that distances itself from the logic of Arab states.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Tunisia for its fight against Islamic extremists adding that it is a laboratory for an open Arabo-Muslim society that respects its identity. Sarkozy’s comments received criticism from human rights groups like the Tunisan Association of Democratic Women. Its spokesperson, Khadija Cherif, explained she was disappointed Sarkozy had given priority to business. Tunisair announced a deal to purchase 16 aircraft from European plane-maker Airbus, and French and Tunisian officials signed an accord that could lead to the construction of a nuclear power plant in Tunisia.
According to a recent national survey conducted by the Italian Makno Consulting company and commissioned by the Italian government, one out of three Italians oppose the constructing of new mosques. The survey found that 31 percent of Italians are against the building of new mosques because they are afraid of possible terrorist attacks by radicals, and fear of intolerance towards Catholicism. While this number is substantial, non-Muslim immigrants showed even less tolerance than their Italian counterparts – with about 50 percent opposing the opening of new mosques.
Two short films have appeared on the Internet featuring the German Islamist Eric B. in which he calls his “brothers” to join the jihad. The authorities have been hunting him for weeks, fearful that he could be preparing a terrorist attack in Kabul. The video messages are fanning those fears. The news spread like wildfire through the offices of Germany’s intelligence agencies. Two new terrorist videos had turned up on the Turkish-language Web site “Time for Martyrdom,” which has become an important mouthpiece for Islamist propaganda. And once again there were was a clear connection to Germany. German terrorist investigators are alarmed at the new videos. After an initial assessment, it was clear that the two short films feature the German Islamist Eric B. from Neuenkirchen in Saarland. For the past few weeks, a publicity campaign in Kabul (more…) has focused on finding him and his presumed accomplice Houssain al-M. Matthias Gebauer and Yassin Musharbash report.
The editors of a new book with compiled testimonies of ex-Muslims say they were not surprised when the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacked their work, without first reading the anthology. However, the group was shocked that the New York Daily News characterized CAIR as the voice of moderate Muslims. The compilation, titled Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out was criticized by CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper, weeks before the book’s release. Hooper is quoted as saying: This book is put out by WND Publishing [sic], which promotes hate every day on its extremist anti-Muslim hate site. Hooper also made false assertions that the company’s editor suggested air-dropping pig’s blood over Afghanistan – claim which CAIR’s lawyer retracted.
Iran plans to counter the inflammatory _Fitna’ video made by Dutch legislator Geert Wilders with two documentary films. The films, titled _Reply to Fitna’ and _Beyond Fitna’ aim at what the filmmakers call neutralizing the plot by the Dutch against Islam. The two Iranian filmmakers have also announced their readiness to debate Wilders over his film. Tehran has condemned Wilders’ film, calling it insulting and anti-Islamic and as symbolic for the deep antagonism of some Western countries towards Muslims and Islam.
Newly drafted laws in the Catalonia region of Spain will limit immigrants in public and other colleges as part of a regional education law. The law will permit different percentages of foreigners in certain education areas, and those areas with too few foreigners will be able to increase the number of positions by up to 10% to let more in. What this means, however, is that a fixed limit on the number of foreigners in each area will be imposed, with the intent to avoid growing ghettos and slums. Meanwhile, a contract of integration will be set up for immigrants in the Valencia region. The contract would be part of a future regional immigrant integration law, as immigrants would have to sign the _contract for integration’ – described as an assumed model of coexistence and local values. Immigration and Citizenship Councillor Rafael Blasco described Valencia as a land open to all, provided residents are integrated in local values, customs, and traditions, so that the social cohesion of the region is not lost.